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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

No relenting in the fight against public smoking

Public smoking is very detrimental to the health of not only the smoker but those around him or her. It is the principal cause of many chronic and acute diseases resulting in a serious drain on our health budgets as individuals, families and the state.  


According to statistics, tobacco kills six million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing or inhaling second-hand smoke. It also suggested that the epidemic will kill more than eight million people every year by 2030. More than 80% of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low-and middle-income countries. Looking at these figures, we are urged to soberly come face this very troubling part of our global narrative. The sad part being the fact that most of these deaths occur in third world countries like The Gambia, where the most impoverished live.


The Gambia has banned tobacco advertisement in the mass media through the 2003 Anti-Tobacco Advertisement Bill and more importantly, the National Assembly unreservedly ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in June 2007 and already passed an anti-public smoking act. So, the government has been doing a lot lately to combat the problem of public smoking. But like always, the devil lies in the implementation process.


It is very discouraging to note that general smoking itself is on the increase.  And increasingly, most of those indulging in this very dangerous habit are the young people, some in their teens. While there is genuine concern to stop public smoking, the root causes of the problem must be looked into and tackled. 


To fight against smoking, it must be noted that most of the things luring young people into smoking could be tackled at a societal level. The fallacious notion that smoking and drugs help in easing everyday stress and the very pain of a difficult existence, needs to be fought with proper teaching and awareness within the homes and schools. The school system should specifically have counseling sessions on issues like this, and also cooperate with the relevant stakeholders to raise awareness on the many fallacies and myths surrounding its use.


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